Blog Archives - AM Musings
 
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Here's another accidental photo on Folsom Street.  Sitting in my VW at Vega Cafe, I notice the diagonal shadow of a post on the sidewalk.   I snap the picture and look at it.  The different elements in the photo connect with one another.  
The shadow on the window sill of the car merges with the diagonal line and then again merges with the shadow of the building leading the eye back for forth.  The building green recalls the green of the car.  Not a great shot, but enough to think about for a bit.  

 
 
 
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There's nothing like Green Apple Bookstore in the City and probably in the Bay Area.  It has some of the same vibe as the famous Strand Bookstore in Manhattan.  It doesn't nearly compare in volume to the Strand.  Then probably nothing else does either.  

Alex and Katie called it Luk Ping Guo (Green Apple in Cantonese).    It's in the heart of San Francisco's  inner Richmond shopping district on Clement Street, conveniently near a lot of places I frequent.
As much as I enjoy the convenience of getting information on-line, there's nothing quite like the tactile quality of a book, the quality of the paper, the design of the layout and cover.  Chris has organized our library by the color of the book -- reds in one area, blue in another.  It doesn't make it easier to find a book, but it sure is enjoyable to look at the shelves.    For the most part, architects love books and Chris and I are among those who do.

 
 
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Located next to Slim's Nightclub in SOMA, Bar Agricole, 355 11th Street,  San Francisco is the hot new place - both from the design and food aspects.  Haven't been  there yet, but it looks pretty interesting.  In its previous incarnation it was a plumbing supply warehouse, very down to earth and gritty.  

Now it's polished up quite a bit.  I  like the simple details like the stones here separating the fence and sidewalk.

 
1959 was a year of optimism for America.  The space age was new and everything reflected rockets taking off to the stars.  The landing on the moon was less than 10 years away.
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This ad on the left is how I remember the 1959 chevy, viewed from the rear as it left you standing in a cloud of dust, sleek and alluring.  I saw this 59 Chevy stationwagon as I was crossing Van Ness at Fulton Street.  Detroit, in their rush to design something new every year, was so taken with the design of the Chevy coupe, they really didn't think through how it would look as a station wagon.  Here it is or was --  a box stuck on a rocket.  It's survived all these years.  Maybe nobody wanted to drive it much? 
 
 
 
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I usually drive down Golden Gate Avenue, a one way street where the bikers pause at the top of a long incline like skiers in winter before swooping down at neckbreaking speeds.

But today I have something else in mind.  I drive over to  Fulton Street to Alamo Square to take in the on-axis view of City Hall - always inspiring!  Driving down Fulton Street toward this Beaux Arts beauty feels like rushing into the arms of your lover.

 
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It's a chilly wet morning, I'm late, and it's another blue Monday.  I park near Vega Cafe on Folsom in SOMA and I'm cheered by the yellow scooter truck and then I see the Tamale Lady on her 3 wheel tricycle in her bright yellow rain coat.  She a regular here too!  Off she scoots on her route selling homemade tamales.  Seeing the cheerful yellow and getting my Americano --  I feel good. 

I don't know why, but I'm really like coming to Vega Cafe.  It seems to perk me up.  Is it the great coffee?  The friendly staff?  Or is it the feng shui?  Not sure, but it works for me.

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The call it mellow yellow . . .
Donovan's 1967 song Mellow Yellow starts playing in my mind and I think back to my school days living on the northside of UC Berkeley in Kensington.  There were 5 of us living in a house and Berkeley was at the forefront of the beginnings of the counter-culture.  Every week there seemed to be something new to expand your conciousness.  The most memorable was smoking the lining of banana peels.  Whoooa!  My house-mates were suddenly buying bananas.  They were sitting in the kitchen scrapping the lining of the banana peels to dry.  Didn't work though, but it almost didn't matter.

 
 
 
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Mom went to the dentist Friday to see how her implant was doing -- "just fine" the doctor said.

 It was lunch time so we went to lunch down a few blocks to 2nd Avenue and Geary to San Dong House BBQ.  I'm not sure why it's called BBQ as I didn't see any sign of barbequed food.  Geary is a 6 lane divided street with people rushing to and from the Avenues downtown.  I've never noticed this restaurant in this formless section of the street, but I'm glad my cousin introduced us to it.   It seems all the restaurants that originate from areas in China close to Korea have their own kim-chi like dish usually made with hot chile oil with perhaps a few whole chile peppers.  

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This is the newest place we've found that has hand pulled noodles.  We passed on the xiao-long bau as we had them the night before and ordered beef tendon soup noodles and sliced beef pancakes.  The beef tendon had a  wonderful soft texture and Mom loved them so much she couldn't keep her chopsticks out of the soup bowl until all the beef tendon was gone.  Then she sort of giggled and said, "I ate it all".   In the back of the restaurant is an open prep area and I spied the guy hand-pulling noodles with accordion-like motions.  It's a technique hard to believe until you've seen it done.  The dough is stretched and doubled over until you have many strands of noodles.  The noodles a texture like no other and vary in thickness and width from one end to the other.

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Sliced beef pancakes don't sound too special, but everyone orders them.  We decided to try them too.  Soft wheat tortilla-like crepes are filled with thin slices of beef and cilantro and then rolled up jelly roll fashion and sliced.  The slightly chewy texture of the tortilla forms matching layers with the  layers and texture of the beef.   A  wonderful taste and mouth feel --happy thoughts indeed!  Mom thought this place was noticeably better than Shanghai House that we ate at the night before.   She usually declines the left-over take home packages, but this time she took them without hesitation.

April 24th is Edward Mock's birthday.  He was born in 1916 in the small central valley town of Fowler, California.  He would have loved the food in this restaurant.

 
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The Balboa Theater, San Francisco
Neon lights like elephants are an endangered species.  Once every main-street was filled with neon lights of every commercial type - theaters, drug stores, and markets.  As they were replaced by backlit plastic signs, the neon lights went out one by one -- so slowly  we don't notice exactly when they become scarce.  

Driving west on Balboa in the Outer Richmond of San Francisco as the street rolls down to the ocean, you can see the flashing neon of the Balboa Theater from far away.  It is a relic.  One of the few remaining neighborhood single screen theaters.  Even they have split the theater into separate screening rooms in their effort to stay afloat.   It seems each year the  Balboa is on the brink of closing and if it does, this neon will go dark.  Neon lights are still around, but very few still have the shouting flashing letters each one lighting one by one in sequence like a spelling bee B- A- L- B- O- A, "Balboa".

 
 
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Mom hasn't felt up to going out walking this week so last night we took her to  dinner at Shanghai House on Balboa near 38th Avenue in the outer Richmond near the beach in San Francisco.  The big storefront windows are an appealing feature to the simple interiors.  You can immediately see if there are tables available when you drive by in contrast to the Shanghai Dumpling King restaurant down the street where you have to make the commitment to park and go in before finding out if there is a table.  Shanghai House has the slight edge for having Spicy Chicken Wings.  

Both Shanghai Dumpling King and Shanghai House are known for their xiao-long bau - little juicy bit-sized morsels dumplings filled with pork, steamed in a bamboo basket and served with a ginger dipping sauce.  The dough is beautifully pleated and swirled into a shape like lips puckered for a kiss, appealing in every way.  Best if you eat them in a Chinese spoon to catch the juices that squirt out when you bite into them.  One order brings ten.  Service here is slow, but totally worth it.  

Why do I call them Bruce Lee's Buns?  Bruce Lee's Chinese name is Li xiao-long or  little dragon.


 
 
 
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In the battle between the two San Francisco free weekly papers, there's no question my loyalty is with the Bay Guardian.  I have a long history with them dating from 1977  when my office was in the same building .
 
I happen to see the covers of the two papers side by side when I was getting my coffee this morning.  No question who is winning the battle on the graphic design front.  Sorry Bay Guardian.